ProjectUX had the opportunity to attend the EarthX festival in Dallas recently, the biggest Earth Day celebration in North America! While there we spoke with a couple of presenters about the impact of design on human well being and our environment. Watch the interview video and read more below:

John Hanke, CEO of the company that created Pokémon Go, talked about the importance of design intent. With Pokémon Go, Niantic Labs set out to get people outside and explore the world. With a collective 6 billion miles walked they have achieved their mission, and have now set their sights to mobilize people to take cleanup initiatives on the recent Mission Blue project that happened on Earth Day. Designing with intent and purpose is a running theme in this interviews series.

We also spoke with Jeff Corkran, VP Experience Strategy at Eecosphere, on the importance of creating the proper incentives to change behavior. Designers are the first people on the line in creating products, services and exerpiences, so it is of upmost importance that they are aware of the consequences of their choices. Design strongly influences the enviornment around us, and how we react to it as well.

As such it is incumbent upon designers to be the frontline. He believes greatly improved designs are coming in the near future as we better frame our approach to solving problems. With greater awareness of social, economic and environmental issues we should remain optimistic that a better future is in the works. No doubt there will be mistakes and tragedies along the way, but like any good UX Researcher we will measure and iterate our way to improvements.

And lastly we talked with Willis Winters, head of the Dallas Parks & Recreation department, about using universal design principles to create public spaces that can be used by everyone. He points out that great cities have great parks systems, and Dallas is not exception to this rule. With 31 million people using the system annually there is not other service that severs greater numbers. While Dallas has a very good public parks system "we always need strong advocates for our park system," says Winters. Some cities like Portland and Minneapolis invest nearly twice as much per person in their parks system.

There is a proven link between happiness and the availability of green spaces in cities (see this study for more information) The best user experiences are not found on our devices and products, but in nature. Channeling our friend Alan Cooper, it is up to us to be a good steward of the land we have been given. Treating it with respect and investing in the design of integration of nature into urban life will hopefully be a hallmark of future designs. Let us work towards building an infrastructure that blends into and works with nature, not one that just takes over.

Building Concept art Courtesy of Vincent Callebaut Architecture

Being a good steward of the planet is of upmost importance to our relationship with the planet and the survival of our species. UX practices of universal design and consideration of all the human factors can go a long way towards helping us shape how we create products, industry, and infrastructure that minimizes our impact on the environment while maximizing our connection to it. 

We covered similar themes around the concept of universal design in a recent UX Vault episode, which you can read more about in our previous blog post. These issues are important to everyone, and companies that pay attention to and emphasize environmentally conscious design decisions will be rewarded in the long term. When the environment wins we all win.